Published: Tue, November 19, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Two dead as rural French bridge collapse sends vehicles plunging into river

Two dead as rural French bridge collapse sends vehicles plunging into river

A 15-year-old girl died and a truck driver was missing after a suspension bridge over a river in southwest France collapsed on Monday, reigniting a debate over infrastructure safety in the wake of last year's disaster in Genoa.

Four people were rescued but several others were feared missing after the collapse of the bridge between Mirepoix-sur-Tarn and Bessieres, 30 kilometers north of Toulouse, said fire service and local security chief Etienne Guyot.

The bridge was limited to 19-tonne vehicles.Television images showed one auto nose-down in the water, with only its rear lights and bumper above the surface.

Several hours later, Mirepoix-sur-Tarn Mayor Eric Oget said on BFM television that a truck driver whose vehicle fell into the river was also found dead, and rescuers were working to extract his body. The dead girl was traveling by vehicle across the bridge with her mother when it collapsed. The truck fell into the river alongside a auto that was crossing the bridge at the same time.

The lorry that reportedly crossed the bridge over the river Tarn at around the time of its collapse appeared to be over the permitted maximum 19-tonne weight, according to early reports published on the website of regional newspaper La Depeche du Midi.

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The council of the local Haute-Garonne area said the bridge, which dated to 1931 and had been renovated in 2003, underwent a "thorough" inspection in 2017 showing "no structural problem".

According to the global news agency, a 15-year-old girl and a truck driver have died in the incident whereas 5 people have gotten injured.

Among the injured are two of the 67 firefighters who rushed to the scene, police said.

Many pedestrians, together with schoolgoers, additionally used the bridge, he stated, describing the accident as a "real trauma". The girl's mother was pulled alive from the sunken vehicle by bystanders, some of whom were badly injured in the rescue attempt.

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